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Tara Parker-Pope and the Venomous Bloggers

September 30th, 2009 by Jessika

A Google search of Tara Parker-Pope generates nearly 99 thousand hits.

The New York Times health columnist clearly has a large Digital Footprint.

You can find her most recent Well blog, which she updates daily. Google also takes you to her older column at The Wall Street Journal, and her book on hormone replacement therapy.

Her expertise on health has even landed her on TV segments.

Thanks to her Twitter accounts (yes, she has more than one), we know that she completed the Philadelphia Distance Run on September 20, and that she is currently training for the New York City Marathon.

She definitely takes her health seriously.

Pint of Liquid Courage, Parker addresses the question “does Hogwarts have a drinking problem?” She seems to think so, citing various scenes in the most recent movie, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, as evidence. Parker feels that the portrayal of underage drinking in the movie may be a bad influence on young fans.

But does she take her argument too far?

The depths of the Internet provide the answer, or at least some responses from some very unhappy Harry Potter fans.

An entry on the Examiner rails Parker’s piece. “It’s a fantasy book and a fantasy world — believe it or not, parents, your delicate little children really can tell the difference,” writes Michelle Kerns.

News Keeps Getting Worse for Vitamins, another Parker column, surveys the results of recent vitamin studies, suggesting that vitamin supplements do not provide the benefits many would like us to believe. Parker even suggests that vitamins may be dangerous.

Again, the depths of the Internet reveal not so positive reactions to her piece.

In response to her piece, blogger Mark Schauss said, “Tara Parker-Pope, needs to switch from reporting to something that only requires manual labor.” He goes on to cite flaws in her analyses of the studies, and flaws that he sees in the studies themselves.

For better or worse, the Internet shows both the positive and negative reactions to stories, providing a permanent, searchable record.

That’s a scary thought. At the same time, though, it’s also a very powerful tool for journalists.

In a Q & A with PR Week, Parker said, “What I like about the Well blog is that the opportunity for me as a reporter to learn from readers or to talk to them and answer their questions.”

This interaction with readers is invaluable.

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